‘Junior Blue’: What Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2015 Nationwide-sponsored Sprint Cup car will look like

3 Comments

Nationwide is officially on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s side.

Just a half-hour before NASCAR announced that Comcast’s XFINITY brand in 2015 will replace Nationwide Insurance as the entitlement sponsor for what is now known as the Nationwide Series, the Columbus, Ohio-based insurance company revealed what Earnhardt’s Sprint Cup race car will look like carrying NWI colors.

Those colors — which we’re calling “Junior Blue” — will be heavy on blue and white, similar to the so-called “Petty Blue” on Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford Fusion driven by Aric Almirola.

Nationwide has been the entitlement sponsor for the NNS the last seven seasons. Due to changes in marketing strategy, it elected to let its current contract with NASCAR lapse at the end of this season.

In turn, NWI will become one of Earnhardt’s primary sponsors in the Sprint Cup Series starting in 2015, part of a three-year deal. Nationwide will essentially replace National Guard, which is ending its motorsports sponsorship programs in NASCAR and IndyCar (Graham Rahal) at the end of this season.

MORE: Nationwide Insurance gets early start on Dale Jr. primary sponsorship

Fans will get a sneak preview of sorts of that new sponsorship and the colors in this weekend’s final qualifying race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Richmond International Raceway.

Nationwide Insurance will also increase its associate sponsorship presence in 2015 on the cars of Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”